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The best of the original series,
This review is from: Doctor Who - The Caves Of Androzani  [DVD]  (DVD)
1984 The Caves of Androzani failed to win the best story in the annual season survey conducted by Doctor Who magazine, particularly surprising as this story is now consider by many to be the best one of the original series and certainly of any broadcast during producer's John Nathan Turner somewhat maligned period in charge of the programme. In his final appearance in the series, Peter Davison gives his best performance as The Doctor. It is a shame that the actor chose not to stay, perhaps if he had more scripts of this quality, he would have done a fourth year. One criticism of the Peter Davison era was that The Tardis was somewhat overcrowded, with 2 or 3 companions regularly appearing alongside The Doctor. Here there is just The Doctor, and new companion Peri, and the pair have an excellent chemistry in their second and final story together.
The story itself is set as the title implies, on the planet Androzani, were a war is being fought over a product found on the planet, Spectrox. Spectrox is a substance that offers up to twice normal lifespan for those that drink it. However raw spectrox that has not been refined, is deadly to anyone who comes into contact with it, as The Doctor and Peri discover to their cost. It is then a race against time for The Doctor to find a cure, but in the meantime he has to find a way of avoiding execution after being wrongly accused of gunrunning, and Peri finds herself in the grasp of a madman living in caves under the planet and obsessed with her beauty.
The character of Sharez Jek in the serial has often been compared to that of The Phantom Of The Opera, but the serial also has the feeling of a Shakespearean tragedy.
From the moment, this the most innocent of all The Doctor's, arrives on the planet, he is in trouble. With the exception of The Doctor and Peri there are no nice characters in the serial, everyone is flawed in someway,from the hopelessly incompetent army Chief, General Chellak to the evil and manipulating Morgus. Although every actor is superb, particularly memorable are Maurice Roeves as Stotz, and the late Christopher Gable as Sheraz Kek. JOhn Normington is equally believable as Morgus and his regular asides to the camera, actually work. The only criticism of the story is the Magna creature, although its appearance is kept to a minimal.
This is an essential purchase.